Tech & Finance Recruiting

By Ringside Talent

March 11, 2020

When you’re walking into a job interview, you don’t want to wing it. Preparation leads to confidence, so knowing what to expect can help you to meet expectations when the stakes are high. It’s natural to be nervous. Prep work is the antidote: having the materials you need can help you to push through the nerves, talk about your experience and share your story with confidence. But remember: the most important thing to bring into a job interview doesn’t fit in your backpack.

“Stay Curious”

The famous words of Steve Jobs are what you have to bring into the job interview, if you’re serious about moving forward in your career. Curiosity is the key: what will you discover about the people, process and culture of the organization? Consider the job interview as a two-way street: they are interviewing you but also you are interviewing them. Enter the interview conversation as a detective—what are the relationships around your potential position? But don’t turn your curiosity inward: “I wonder if they will like me?” “Do they think I have an accent?” “How am I going to explain those six months at Lululemon to the CMO?” This kind of introspective curiosity goes by another name: self-consciousness. Better to leave that uneasy self-awareness at the door when you walk into the interview room. Put your attention on your interviewer and find out how you can be of service to the company. Here are some other things to bring when it’s time to talk about your next career move:

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  • Notepad and Pen: it’s old school, but the ability to quickly jot down notes is important in the interview. You want to give your attention to what’s being said but capturing ideas for future reference (either in this conversation or the next one) is important. Plus, you can also have some talking points written down in that same notebook. And I’m not talking about a spiral notebook—I mean an executive folio, with a cover on it and pockets inside. (Scroll down for more ideas on how you can use your folio to your advantage).
  • Ditch the Laptop: don’t bring a laptop or tablet into a job interview. You’re not going to type notes during a conversation, or bang out some code in front of the interviewer, so you won’t need it. Anything you can do to minimize screen distraction will be in your best interest. Tempted to talk to Siri or respond to a text? Not when your career’s on the line. Set your phone into do not disturb and give your full attention to your potential employer.
  • H2O FTW: it’s a good idea to bring a water bottle. If you’re nervous, your mouth might get dry—and staying hydrated is always a smart move. If you are offered coffee, my recommendation is: hard pass. Why? Because coffee will dry you out and amp you up. If you care about this gig, you’ll be plenty focused already—no need for extra caffeine. Typically, unless it’s a lunch interview, it’s not a good idea to eat anything in the interview process. Minimize your distractions and give your full attention to your interviewer, not that donut in the conference room.
  • Copy That: do you have a couple of hard copies of your résumé? Picture this: in the interview process, your potential boss wants to introduce you to Tanya, the new CFO. The meeting is unexpected so she hasn’t seen your résumé. Tanya sits down to talk with you—would it be useful for you to have a hard copy of your CV to share with her? Your folio notebook is a great place to keep samples of your work, whatever that work might be. Having tangible examples will bring your story to life. If you’re being interviewed for a role where work product matters (architecture, graphic design, animation, etc) that story is told with pictures!
  • Get Your Story Straight: do you have a few details that might be really important to share, such as your past company’s performance? Are you interviewing for a technical role where data could come into play? In that folio notebook, write down the metrics and measurements that matter. Make a note of stories that you think will be relevant, just in case you need to jog your memory. A few words can provide a quick prompt for you to share examples from your past.
  • Do You Have Any Questions? Write down the things you need answered in your notebook. Eventually, you will be asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” The questions you ask will showcase your thinking skills as well as your ability to pursue new information—two critical traits for desirable employees. Make sure you’re not blindsided by the question about your questions: writing down those inquiries is the best answer.

It’s also a great idea to prepare for some of the questions you might anticipate. Walk in ready to talk about your greatest weakness and have a clear idea on why the company should hire you. Understand how to use numbers, data and statistics to your advantage. Consider some of the more difficult questions you might be asked, and remember to avoid these five deadly phrases. But ultimately, your curiosity (about the company, processes and people) is the number one thing to bring to the job interview. Share your story to find out where your skills really fit. Because preparing for that important interview conversation is the first step in finding your next job.

Source:  Chris Westfall at Forbes